How To Reach Niche Markets With Experiential Activations

Millennials may not be committing to the act of marriage in their younger years. But there is one commitment they’re not shying away from, and that’s pet ownership. Seven in 10 in this group own a pet, making the generation the largest to do so. Millennials feel they must complete their education and find their life’s path before tying the knot. In the meantime, they look to dogs (56%) and cats (36%) for companionship. Of those pet owners, 44% also see their companion’s care as a way to prepare for the care of children. This means these 30-something year-olds are ready or near ready to settle down. And, this makes single millennials with pets a unique target for brands with a stake in the matter. One of which is Bumble, a social and dating app.

A survey of over 1,300 millennials asked the difference in how they use Bumble versus Tinder. They answered that Bumble is for dating and Tinder is for hookups. So, it only makes sense Bumble target millennials seeking more serious engagements. And, this is what it did at SXSW 2019, an event populated by near 70% millennial-age attendees.

To draw the “right” millennials, Bumble hosted SXSW Puppy Party 2019, a dog-friendly gathering with doggy photo booths, prize drawings, and more. This was in partnership with Tito’s Handmade Vodka, which hosts regular cause marketing events to promote pet adoption. So, the Puppy Party also featured Tito’s drinks and adoptable puppies from a local shelter. The latter demonstrated the positive social influence consumers expect from brands. In short, it was all things millennials love, which made the experiential activation the perfect setup for the niche audience to find potential love. It also made it easy to fall in love with the brands. And, no two goals could be more relevant for Bumble – a big reason why its number of experiential marketing activations continues to rise.

 

Bumble experiential activation

Why Experiential Marketing Activations Result in Brand Love

With online dating now a conventional means for finding that special someone, people have a variety of sites and apps to choose from. Forbes has reported more than 1,000 online dating services launch every year. Some services target niche markets from the get-go, like Gluten Free Singles and Equestrian Cupid. But others like Bumble and Tinder have a broader audience, requiring them to show segments how their platform fits their needs. No matter, the goal of all is to help users make connections with one another. And, it’s these two reasons that make experiential activations best to reach audiences in any industry.

Reason #1. Experiential marketing activations let niche markets see how brands fulfill their specific needs.

An Inc. article shares a niche audience marketers are missing out on – moms. And, it’s a shame since, in the U.S., moms yield $2.1 trillion in spending power. They are a diverse group of women. Some are stay-at-home moms, while the majority, near three-quarters in both the U.K. and the U.S., work outside the home. Twenty percent are millennials, while the others are mostly older. They have varied interests and goals. But, at their core, they put their children over all else.

A Forbes headline reads, “The Path to Millennial Spend is Paved with Transparency.” They want to know what’s in a product and what a brand stands for. So much so, 78% will trust a brand more when it’s transparent. The article tells that brand transparency is even more important to millennial moms, with 83% demanding it. Yet, how do brands get the word out when over half of moms believe “advertisers do a bad job”? Experiential marketing activations provide the perfect forum for brands to share their truths.

That’s why more brands are popping up in family-friendly places in unexpected ways. One example comes from Tree Top, which set up booths in five zoos to show parents its new, see-through packaging. Last year, Volvo took a bit more brazen approach when it targeted pregnant moms. It invited them to a casting call at a Florida dealership and had them rehearse lines on the safety features and technology of the brand’s vehicles. The goal was to subtly sell the cars based on the info they learned. And, it worked, with 25% of them taking a test drive. The added bonus was the footage they got of the mom’s reactions.

Experiential marketing at zoos to reach moms

Reason #2. People make connections with one another.

A 2018 study revealed some sobering statistics on the emotional statuses of Americans. For one, nearly 50% report “sometimes or always feeling alone” (46%) “or left out” (47%). And, only half have “meaningful in-person social interactions” daily. The latter may be a result of our dependence on our mobile devices, on which the average person spends a quarter of their awake time each day. In the U.K., 16-24 year-olds devote almost a day-and-a-half each week. And interesting enough, it’s Gen Z and millennials who report being the loneliest. But, as you can imagine, it’s not the way they want to feel. And, that’s one big reason millennials love experiences.

A Fast Company headline reads, “The Best Brands Are The Ones That Build ‘Belonging’”. It says the key is to “forge meaningful connections.” But to do so, brands must look beyond digital interaction. They must pursue “deeper, real-world person-to-person connection.” It’s this that results in meaningful loyalty. And, the statistics support it. Seventy-six percent of people will choose brands they’re connected to over a competitor, and 57% will increase spending with that brand. But, how do you connect with people who are slowing losing the social skills to do so? How do you get them off their devices to engage person-to-person in the real world? Gather them based on their shared interests.

This has long been a common practice for gaming brands. Xbox, for instance, activated a Toronto pop-up years ago to attract all gamers but hosted hyper-social gamers in a specific area. Esports events are also building community and drawing outside brands like Mercedes-Benz. Ford Motor Company is thinking outside-the-box with its “Tough is More Fun” campaign. A first for the brand, it’s using interest-based targeting to attract adventure seekers in select cities. The effort is certain to bring together like-minded individuals to bond over interests. At the same time, it will make unique audiences feel seen and understood, forging a meaningful connection with Ford.

 

At Elevate, we understand the intimacy of experiential marketing activations of all kinds. Let us provide the right experiential staff to show transparency and foster bonds with your audiences.

Author: Kelly Springs-Kelley

Kelly Springs-Kelley is the Marketing Director at Elevate Staffing. When she's not creating content or pondering the future of in-person consumer engagement, Kelly can be found hiking the mountains of Arizona with her 2 kids and 3 dogs.

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